University of North Dakota consolidates with state on new data center network

Construction of the $17.3 million, 40,000-sq. ft. data center began last year.

As reported by North Dakota's Grand Forks Herald, the North Dakota University System’s (NDUS) new data center network on the western end of the campus of the University of North Dakota was officially opened for business last week. Construction on the $17.3 million, 40,000-square-foot center began last year. As the electronic nerve center for NDUS, the data center houses functions ranging from student records to the ODIN network used by the university system and public libraries in the state. About 125 people will work in the facility. A separate building to house the system’s servers has also opened.

Before the data center was built, the NDUS information technology system was housed in six separate buildings, which lacked proper security and fire protection. The chemical fire suppressants typically used for servers can’t be used where people are working, UND officials have said in the past; hence, the placement of servers in a separate building. In at least one case previously, the servers were in the basement of a building, putting them at risk of flooding, according to the reporting.

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Having IT workers spread throughout campus was not the most efficient arrangement. The new facility does away with those weaknesses and adds some other improvements. For example, there are no hard interior walls inside, allowing the building to be reconfigured easily. “[The new data center] is very important to UND because it provides a home to our technology staff who for years have been scattered all across this campus,” said university President Robert Kelley.

The data network center was seen as both vital to the university system in that it increases the efficiency and security of the network, which has long been housed at UND, and vital to the community because of the jobs generated. In fact, Grand Forks business and civic leaders helped lobby for it in Bismarck in 2009. “It’s flexible and versatile enough to meet our changing needs,” added State Board of Higher Education President Kirsten Diederich.

“Collaboration between the North Dakota University System and its institutions is essential to our long-term success,” NDUS Interim Chancellor Larry Skogen said in a statement. “This beautiful and functional new building on the UND campus, which will be the home for our comprehensive information technology, will help make that collaboration possible.”

Full story:UND opens state data center (grandforksherald.com)

See also: Keeping campus networks safe and secure

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